JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Proving that music transcends language barriers, musicians from the U.S. and Japanese navies practiced in Hawaii this week to prepare to perform for audiences in Vietnam and Palau this summer during the annual Pacific Partnership, a multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission, now in its 17th year.
Musicians assigned to the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Band’s popular music group, Pipeline, and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Band, Tokyo will provide musical support for official functions, community outreach performances, and Navy recruiting initiatives throughout the Indo-Pacific Region during Pacific Partnership 2022.
“We are deploying as part of Pacific Partnership to build our relationships across the Indo-Pacific Region,” said Musician 2nd Class David Irving, from Rockville, Md. “A part of that effort is to join forces with as many other partner countries that we can.”
Musicians 2nd Class Yukari Miyake and Yushi Wakai, both assigned to JMSDF Band, Tokyo, will meet COMPACFLT’s band in Vietnam and Palau to play for the local communities during Pacific Partnership 2022. To prepare for their performances, Miyake and Wakai flew to Hawaii for a week of rehearsals.
“This is my first time playing with a foreign country band, and it’s my first time playing this style of music,” said Wakai, a guitarist for the JMSDF Band, Tokyo. “It’s very different between Japan and here, but it is a lot of fun.”
The performance will primarily feature American rock songs with Japanese traditional music weaved throughout.
“Their [COMPACFLT Band] songs are very powerful and have different rhythms from Japan, so it is very fun to collaborate with them,” said Miyake.
With both cultural and language differences, Japan Air Self-Defense Force Maj. Akihiro Iba, training officer Japan Joint Staff, suggested to COMPACFLT’s band that each side send songs to the other to help with familiarity and maintain their culture’s musical styles.
“The goal for this week is to prepare all 13 songs, and at the end of the week, run through all 13 as if it’s a performance,” said Musician 1st Class Matthew Kinnaman, the deployment leading petty officer. “That way, when we go on deployment and play our first show in June, we’ll be ready.”
By playing in these countries, Wakai believes that their performances will do more than just provide entertainment to guests.
“I think music has power of moving the heart,” said Wakai. “It’s different countries, but music moves the heart the same.”
Following a week of rehearsals, Miyake and Wakai will fly back to Japan until the bands reunite mid-summer and play together in Vietnam. Once they finish their performances, they will go their separate ways, but the importance and impact of the partnership will remain.
“Japan and the U.S. have a long history of cooperating and working together as allies,” said Kinnaman. “Stationed in Yokosuka, I got to work with JMSDF musicians, and Petty Officer Miyake sang at a concert I was in.”
Kinnaman went on to add that continuing to grow and foster interactions with partner nations throughout the Indo-Pacific Region will help to build on the relationships already established.
Pacific Partnership’s mission is to work collectively with host and partner nations to enhance regional interoperability and disaster response capabilities, increase stability and security in the region, and foster new and enduring friendships across the Indo-Pacific.